Recently, Cindy and I had two of couples over for pre-marital counseling. It's always exciting to see the star-struck mesmerization in the eyes of young lovers. Starting a life together is so exciting. Marriage is so cool!
Over 30 years ago, Cindy and I were in the same position as these young couples are today. Our eyes were wide and our future was completely open. All the grand possibilities of married life swirled about us. It was so exciting!
As we planned our ceremony, Cindy and I decided that the absolute most important part of our celebration had to be the marriage vows. In order to emphasize these promises, we searched for words that could be taken straight out of scripture. The vows of Ruth were perfect.
Ruth 1:16-17 (KJV)
"Intreat me not to leave thee,
or to return from following after thee:
for whither thou goest, I will go;
and where thou lodgest, I will lodge:
thy people shall be my people,
and thy God my God:
Where thou diest, will I die,
and there will I be buried:
the Lord do so to me, and more also,
if ought but death part thee and me."
The memorization of this tender passage became a very validating part of our relationship. Even today, when Cindy or I will hear a line or a word from this Scripture, we are reminded of our vows and we can't help but look at the other and say them again.
All vows are important, but the marriage vows are ancient, they are holy. To violate these vows is to make a very troubling mistake. A lie is never good, but a lie about one of God's most ancient commands is overwhelmingly foolish.
In all our pre-marital counseling sessions, Cindy and I encouraged young couples to count the cost before they make such a Heavenly commitment. Below are some of the sobering applications to be made from each line of the passage above.
"Intreat me not to leave thee..."
This is a commitment of selfless loyalty and humility.
"...or to return from following after thee:"
A commitment of dependence and submission.
"...for whither thou goest, I will go;"
A commitment to a unified direction in life.
"...and where thou lodgest, I will lodge:"
A commitment to common shelter, protection and security.
"...thy people shall be my people"
A commitment to an extended identity and harmony within those relationships.
"...and thy God my God:"
A commitment to singularity in spiritual development.
"Where thou diest, will I die,"
A commitment to the only God-sanctioned conclusion to the physical marital bond.
"...and there will I be buried:"
A commitment to marital legacy for future generations.
"...the Lord do so to me, and more also,"
A commitment to the ultimate Punisher of marital infidelity.
"...if ought but death part thee and me."
A commitment to the full longevity of the commitment.
As you know, Ruth 1:16-17 was actually written to describe the commitment of a daughter-in-law to her mother-in-law. But before you are tempted to dismiss these words as not having application to a man and woman, please ask yourself this question: If God preserved this description as an example of commitment between in-laws, how much more commitment must He expect from two people who are about to become one flesh. Read Ephesians 5:21-33.
Keep your vows. Make them real!
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